Just Brushing It Off

The last thing I heard before the fall?

Classical music.

The last thing I thought before the fall?

I should jog to classical music more often.

The sound I made to the strains of Bach as I smashed, palms first, knees second, into the sidewalk?

Uuhhfffff. Oh fuck.

The number of seconds it took me to understand what had just happened?


The thought I had after realizing what had just happened?

Geezus. I hope no one saw that.

The thought that went through my head when I peeled back my jogging pants to check for injuries and saw my knee skin stuck to the inside of my pants?


The likelihood, I thought, that my phone would turn back on after it hit the sidewalk and all but exploded?

Very small.

The relief I felt when it did turn on and I was able to dial Burdy and tell him I need you to pick me up. I fell and I'm hurt?


The number of blocks I had to hop-step before Burdy found me in the dark?


The number of times I said "FfffffffffffffffffffIt stings!" and AaaaaaaaghHurry up!" to Burdy while he pawed through the linen closet looking for Neosporin?

Entirely too many for a grown woman.

The number of minutes in the bathroom cleaning the wound before I fainted?

Roughly eleven.

The number of seconds I was out?

Roughly twenty.

The number of times I have ever tripped and fallen while jogging in my whole entire life?

Just this once.

The number of pieces my phone's screen is in after the fall?

A brazillion.

The sole reason I chose this phone over the others in this price range?

The FM radio receiver.

The reason I was scanning for something to listen to (which is how I found the classical station)?

Bad reception.

The idea that, because my phone normally gets excellent reception and because the only thing I could pick up last night was classical music, and because I got the distinct impression before I left the house that it was NOT a good idea to jogging at 9:30 at night, that some cosmic force had choreographed the whole thing?


The amount of time I spent today marveling at the invention of Band-Aids (seriously. BAND-AIDS. THINK ABOUT IT)?

Quite a bit.

The amount of time I spend, when catastrophe strikes, thinking about all sorts of modern inventions I take for granted, like running water, and bathtubs, and gauze, and ice-packs, and television, and re-runs of Seinfeld?

Far too much.

The gratitude and awe I feel for people who have to deal with blood and skin and Band-Aids and gauze on a daily basis?


What my dancin' buddy, Terri, said when she saw my bandaged knee underneath my rolled up workout pants at Zumba class tonight?

Did you get a boo-boo?

Number of minutes of class that went by before I remembered that my skin was missing from my knee-cap and I started to get woozy?

Forty seven.

Willingness to dismiss idea of cosmic choreography and accept the fact it was just a matter of my sneaker catching a piece of raised sidewalk in the dark?


Determination to listen to inner-self when it says: Don't go jogging right now. Stay home and eat popcorn instead?


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A Very Quotable Weekend, Part II

I didn't mean to make that last entry all cliff-hangy, you guys. I swear I didn't. And I also didn't mean to leave you hanging for three whole days. I've just been having an emotional three days here and posting something funny just wasn't in the cards for me.

So, here's the (anti-climactic) end to the whole episode: Male employee acknowledges my telepathic message with a smile and I turn around and walk out of the shoe department while (I'm sure) the crazy lady tried to burn holes in my back with her eyes. And then, because I have a tendency to fixate on things, I couldn't get those eyes out of my head for the whole night and part of the next day.

The remedy to this whole situation was a four-year old. That's right: Giggles and Little Man have made it to the blog again. And this time around, there were some real gems to be had.

Part Two: Saturday and Sunday

Before they got there, their mom told me that Little Man was into germs lately and that anything we could do to get him to talk about germs would probably make him happy. Being the eco-friendly laundry detergent-using, fair trade grown coffee-drinking, recycle everything but chewing gum types that we are, we thought the best place to show a kid where germs live would be the inside of our City-provided curbside compost bin. Little Man actually wanted to SEE the germs though, and we were having a hard time explaining the term "microscopic" in a meaningful way. (Alive, but invisible to the naked eye, every one of them a different shape, all of them moving but unable to be detected... it's all very confusing) The best we could do was to draw a few paramecia and some cell diagrams on paper and say that germs often had irregular shapes. Since we'd already made a plan to make some handmade dolls on the sewing machine for our night of stay at home fun, I offered to sew him a germ. He then insisted that I sew it INTO the bodies of the dolls, since that's where germs lived: inside people. Well played, Little Man. Well played.

We spent the better part of Saturday night crafting their stuffed amorphous monster-dolls out of polyfill and old t-shirts. Little Man, seeing his sister's joy when her doll, Devil, was all sewn up, promptly tucked it under his arm and initiated a game of keep-away.

Now, our apartment is tiny, so the the game consisted of Little Man running in circles around the focal point of our living room, our couch, and Giggles, well, giggling, and chasing him. After a few passes, I asked him why he'd stolen the doll, and he answered without breaking his stride, and with total earnestness: I NEED IT FOR COMPOST!

And then there was this, when I offered him Burdy's knife-making out of paper and aluminum foil skills:

LM: Make me a rondel.
Burdy: A what?
LM: A rondel.
Burdy: I don't know what that is.
LM: It's a sword, with two round things on the end. The knights used it when they were fighting. And it's sharp, okay? Really, really sharp.
Burdy: Um. Okay. Well, how about I start with a normal sword and then you can tell me what else I need?
LM: Nuh-o. Just draw a rondel!
Burdy: Okay, I'll try. (draws a fairly typical sword).
LM: That's not it. You didn't put the round things.
Burdy: How about you trace it on the paper with your finger and then I draw what you've traced?
Burdy: Oh! I have an idea! Let's look it up on the Internet!

You guys, this is a rondel:

It's TOTALLY a sharp thing with two round things on the end. Next time a four year old commands you to draw a rondel, don't guess and don't ask for further instruction. Just go right to the Internet.

Giggles was into dressing up her dolls in makeshift outfits constructed of fabric scraps. She tied a long piece of fabric around one of the doll's heads and presented it to me. "Look", she said, "It's a Hippie!" And then she giggled. And that prompted this exchange between me and Little Man:

LM: What's a hippie?
Me: A Hippie? Well, a hippie is a slang term for person that belonged to a movement that started in the 60's-
LM: Is it a Roman?
Me: What?
LM: Is it a Roman?
Me: No, kid. I meant the 1960s, not the 660s. Anywho, a Hippie-
LM: Is it an Egyptian?
Me: Well, I suppose they could be. I mean, not an ancient Egyptian, if that's what you're asking. I mean, I think it's mostly a North American thing. Hmm.... I guess you could say a Hippie is someone whose core values are peace and love and equality and fairness.
LM: (considering thoughtfully what I've just said) I hate Hippies.
Me: (patting his head lovingly) Of course you do, sweetheart. Of course you do.

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A Very Quotable Weekend

Part 1: Friday

Scene: The local mall. I am looking around Macy's for birthday present ideas. Uninspired by mostly everything, I find myself drawn, once again, to the shoe department. There is a sale going on, so naturally the section looks like Susie Windmillarms came through and did a number on the place. There are shoes ALL over the floor (as well as a pink puddle of skinned-over glorp underneath a chair in the seating area that appears to have hit the wall behind it at Mach 5 earlier in the day).

Act One: The Staring Contest

There are two relatively attentive young people working the shoe department, a male and a female. I pick up a lovely snake-skinned heel and make my way over to a try-on area away from the pink glorp. Female employee asks me if I would like to try on the mate to the shoe I've picked out. I say yes; she disappears into the stock area.

It's Friday night. The mall is a weirdly quiet place on a Friday night. I'm searching for a gift idea, but, really, I'm also killing time till the fiance gets home. Also, I could always use another pair of shoes. I can't remember the last time I was at the mall on a Friday night. I think about where I would be right now if I wasn't at the mall. I would be out on a date with the fiance, I think. We'd be eating sushi, or saganaki, and having a cocktail, and talking about weekend plans. I look at the few people around me. They are mostly single women. I look beyond the shoe section and into the cosmetics section and then out into the mall itself. I think: who are these people? Why are they shopping on a Friday night? Do they have plans to go out later? Is shopping their plans for going out later? A Muzak version of some popular song plays over the PA system. People move around in slow-motion. Piles of poorly designed and cheaply priced goods are messily heaped on display tables and stuffed one-too-many onto Formica shelves. I deduce that malls on a Friday night are probably the most depressing things on earth.

I look down at my slumped posture, at my boots laying on the floor next to my stocking feet. My legs are especially white. And it's mid-June. I notice that I have thrown my purse up against the foot of the chair (and not put it ON the chair like a real lady would). Lord, I think. I'm here at the mall on a Friday night. I'm totally one of them.

I look up to check on the progress of my shoe request. There is an older woman standing at the counter and she makes eye contact. She is holding a bag containing a box of shoes and she looks like she wants to make a return.

Is anyone working here, she asks? Yes, I reply, but I think they're both in the back getting shoes for folks. At the moment, I am the only one seated waiting for shoes, so it's strange that both the employees are gone. I look back to my feet and then up again as another woman has entered our small, sad circle at the mall on Friday night.

This woman is probably in her late thirties. She is well dressed and put together. She is holding a shoe in her hand and she is staring at the older woman, who is staring back at her. She is studying the older woman standing at the counter with a fierce intensity.

There is a brief moment of complete and strange silence, and then this, from the late-thirties woman to the older woman: "STOP STARING AT ME."

I look at the late-thirties woman. She has this look in her eyes, like a bull about to charge. I am almost paralyzed with alarm. Did she really just tell this sweet old lady, who, I am sure, like the rest of us, was just trying to focus on another living soul in the midst of all the negative space and shoe clutter and crusted-over smoothie, to STOP STARING AT HER? Surely the older woman was NOT staring at her, and even if she was, why wouldn't the late-thirties woman just ignore her and go about her business? Why would she just blurt out this playground-style accusation at an old woman trying to return some shoes?

Just then both employees come out of the stock room, and another woman my age comes into the seating area holding a shoe. None of the newcomers have any idea what has just transpired. The late-thirties woman goes back to trying on her shoes. The female employee asks the young woman what size she needs and she quickly goes into the stock room again. She returns a moment later to say that she's out of that size. The male employee starts to process the old woman's return. The young woman sits down behind me and starts to pull her own socks and shoes back on.

The female employee then asks the late-thirties woman if she needed help. And this is what she says:


My jaw drops. My blood pressure goes up. What. The. Fuck. Is. Going. ON?

The thing is, this woman who thinks I am a spy (Spy? SPY? When was the last time you used the word spy? Seriously. Think about it. Never? Yeah, I thought so.) looks perfectly NORMAL. Except for the intense bull-charging look in her eye. I mean, she's doing the most mundane, normal thing in the world: shopping for shoes. She has a purse, she is wearing a well put-together outfit. Her hair is coiffed. It's not like she's wearing two different flip-flops and a gunny-sack stuck with dirty, feral cats. She looks completely sane. But the crap coming out of her mouth is bat-shit CUH-RAZY.

For the next several awkward seconds, the employees, the old lady and I all do a sit-com style head turning routine where we all look at from one to the other and worldlessly ask "Is she talking about ME?"

Now she is staring right AT me and muttering something about my being a spy. And let me tell you something: I have never been so paralyzed with fear in my life. The look in this woman's eyes was an unearthly mixture of ImmmaKillYou and far-away non-focus; I've never seen anything like it. And I wasn't sure what to do.

I mean, I had a pretty good idea. What I WANTED to do was stand up in my heels, do a snap in a Z-formation, and get all Jerry Springer on this woman's ass. I wanted to slap my sternum with my open palm emphatically, lean forward, and shout at the top of my lungs "Are you talking to ME? You think I'M a spy? Are you fucking OUT OF YOUR MIND?" And here I would laugh derisively or dismissively, whatever, and I would look at the employees and ask them, "You believe this bitch? Saying I'm a spy?" And then I would turn back to her and say, "Listen. Only reason I'm in this store on a Friday night is because I'm trying to kill time. Even if I WAS a spy, what in Jesus' name makes you so damned important that you need to be spied on? I mean, really. Like anyone cares what the hell you're doing here. Like any one cares what the fuck you do with your lame-ass, pathetic Friday night, you-"

What actually happened was this:

me: blink. blink blink.
female employee: sheepishly ma'am, um, she doesn't work for our company.
me: blink. swallow hard. blink blink.
female employee: blink.
male employee: craning neck from behind the counter and pretending to be looking at something in the far distance
young woman behind me: slips shoe onto the counter and slinks off
older woman: hurriedly gathers up her purse and walks away, unphased. I presume she is partially deaf. Or maybe scared to pieces. Hard to tell.
me: blink. blink blink.
female employee: looks at me, looks at customer. looks at me, looks at customer.
customer: staring hard at me, or at the fireworks on her retinas, I can't tell.

And now I am faced with a conundrum: I want to leave, but that means I'll have to interact with the employees ('cause the snakeskin heels are gorgeous and I want to put them on hold) but I've just been accused of being a spy, and even though I know I'm not, I have no idea what the employees are thinking right now. My anxiety is kicking in. Why the hell would I care what these people thought of me? Why can't I just brush this whole thing off? It's sheer clinical craziness. Why should I, the sane one, have to defend against the clearly crazy one? Why am I trying to rationalize my getting up and walking away? Why do I want so badly to yell at this woman STOP IT; JUST STOP IT. I can't explain it. Something about this woman's presence in that little corner of Macy's was sucking all the rationality out of it. Up was down. Wrong was right. Bored Friday night shoppers were corporate spies. And the thing about protesting against accusations of insanity (or spying activities) is that the more you protest, the crazier (or more spy-ish) you sound.

I go to the counter where the male employee is busy shuffling papers (anything to avoid looking five feet to the right where this woman is standing). He asks if he can help me and I inhale and hold my breath for a second and plop the shoes on the counter. I meet his eyes and we have this milli-second exchange that went something like: You just see that shit? What the fuck, right? You know I'm not a spy, right? And you know I wasn't following that lady around, right? Dude. I am soooo sorry you have to deal with this kind of shit on a Friday night. I mean, it's hard enough having to look at people's bunions and dry, cracked heels, and unkempt toenails all day long. Now you have to deal with people like this. And it's an hour before closing and the clearance section looks like a bomb went off in it. I know you're just counting down the hours till this is all just a distant memory and you can go home and tell your girlfriend what a fucked up day you had at work. I know you're smarter than this. I know you're being underutilized and underpaid and that you don't deserve this. I bet you're studying to be a doctor or something, and you just took this job to help pay for your graduate studies. I know this woman is probably only one of hundreds of nutcases that comes in here on a regular basis and accuses you of price-fixing, or of hiding the good stuff, or selling things that Macy's clearly does not carry, or of being personally responsible for Macy's return policy, or their store hours or locations, or one of a million other things that you have absolutely no control over... and it just sucks the life out of you day after day having to explain to a generally very uninformed and very impatient populace the way retail sales work in this country. I am so sorry. Really, I am.

Also, dude? There's a really nasty spill under the chair over there you're gonna wanna take a look at before you clock out.

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The Other Lauren Ziemski has been very busy

What are the chances that someone who shares your (unusual) name is actually someone who seems really cool? And what are the chances that that same person is interested in the same things you are? And what are the chances that Google Alerts emails you every few weeks to let you know that your name twin has been filming herself in St. Lucia visiting volcanoes or in Venice Beach performing with a local rock band?

Okay, those odds for that last one are pretty high. I mean, this stuff IS automated, after all.

But, seriously! How surreal is it to see this person, in pictures, and in videos, doing things that you can imagine yourself doing? Like maybe this other Lauren Ziemski is ME in the future, and she is sending videos back to 2011 to say: HEY! Get on with living already! Get your ass over here to Venice Beach where it's SUNNY and sign up to sing with a rock band and get your acting career on and make sure you bring your video camera when you go on vacation!

I first discovered I had a name twin when Google Alerts let me know that she had tweeted something about a bunch of her friends following ME instead of her. THAT must have been weird. They probably signed up to hear about her fabulous life and instead they got blog posts about intestinal worms and panic attacks. Sorry about that, Twittersphere!

One of the weirder moments I've had with my name twin was this: about a year ago, I created a profile on the Rockethub website. The exact sequence of events is a little hazy but it goes something like this: A few weeks later, I got an email from the CEO OF ROCKETHUB congratulating me on my project in Panama. WTF? I started digging around and found out that the OTHER Lauren Ziemski also had a profile on Rockethub. Around that same time, I also got a Google Alert that said that one Lauren Ziemski was doing something involving eco-villages in Panama. Um? WHAT? First of all, Panama is one of my favorite places on earth. Secondly, eco-villages? That sounds EXACTLY like something a less-anxious, more-having-her-shit-together me would be involved in! I had to email back the CEO of Rockethub to say he had the wrong Lauren Ziemski, but it got me thinking:

What if I started living more like this other Lauren Ziemski? What if we all found another person on this earth that shared our name and we found one thing about them to admire and possibly emulate in our own lives? (Wearing a leather dress and rocking out with a band is actually on my bucket list. And apparently, this other LZ over there in California has done that.... so why not move to the top of my list?)

This other Lauren Ziemski is pretty fearless. She's clearly a sun worshipper and knows how to have fun. She's a risk-taker, too. At least, that's what I'm gathering from what the Internet has provided about her. Those are some pretty imitation-worthy attributes, don't ya think?

Now, I'm going to presume that since we share last names we are related. And that means that it's not that much of a stretch to presume that it's DNA that mandates we feel most at home in swimwear. Or that, if I just dig down deep, since the other Lauren Ziemski has already tapped into it, that I can find that same courage and fearlessness in myself.

Ladies and gentlemen: the other Lauren Ziemski.

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A Friday Roundup… Of One Thing

Yeah, so I know a "roundup" is supposed to be some sort of "list" of things rounded up, but, um. HEY, MAN! I'm not, like, into your FASCIST RULES, man. Don't make me get all Montessori School up in here.

Seriously, you guys. I got nothin'.

I've been busy with double bookings at work this week, and I haven't made the time to sit down and write. What I HAVE been doing in my spare time, what little there is of it, is reading other people's blogs.

I'm just now coming out of a rabbit hole I've been down in for the last hour and a half, so don't even ask me how I got here, but go read this. It's effing funny as hell, y'all. Especially if you were alive and dressing yourself in the eighties and nineties. Re-branding is an evil and hilarious thing. The 21-year-old's of this world have no idea. "Leggings"? Yeah, we used to call them "stretch pants" back in the day. Rompers? Well, we called them rompers back then, too, and they were just as unflattering.

And there. I've gone and done it. I've officially made a "back in MY day...." comment.

Listen. I call slouch socks as the next big thing. You can totally say you heard it here first.

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